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Economic development

| Saturday, April 7, 2007

Here is a ready-made campaign issue for incumbents and challengers running for county commissioner -- or for anyone seeking county, borough or township office this year.

It is a familiar, indeed, time-worm political topic -- economic development. The trick is to approach it in a less-than-familiar way.

Last week, a press conference was held in Parker City at which members of a fledgling revitalization corporation discussed the need for start-up funds for the organization. They invited the Armstrong County commissioners and representatives of state lawmakers.

The group envisions a day when it can come up with grant money to aid businesses in town to improve storefronts, and when it can eliminate eyesores, dress up the riverfront, capitalize on the Rails to Trails development and become a destination rather than a town through which people pass.

How do such things translate into a campaign issue?

Because every borough and township in the county is interested in dressing up their business districts, strengthening business opportunity and generally reinvigorating community life.

To be sure, it is not just municipalities in this county.

The votes in the primary and general elections of 2007 should go to the candidates who can design a blueprint for such development.

Voters should not expect a perfect plan, but they should expect -- indeed, demand -- officeholder hopefuls who give this crucial issue some thought and are willing to air those thoughts.

No single politician can have all the answers, but candidates should build enthusiasm for making things better, revealing how he or she will work with leaders in municipalities around the county, marshaling forces, meeting regularly, sharing ideas, mustering the attention of state and federal lawmakers.

We suggest the involvement of candidates at all levels of government. Citizens and voters, if politicians won't address these issues, it is our challenge to wake them up.

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